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LA Street Food Fest 2010 – Part II: Icing on the Cake

February 13, 2010

Read Part I of my adventures at the LA Street Food Fest here.

(Now for a more objective view of the 2010 LA Street Food Fest.)

Like I said in my prior post, I already considered the day a success after getting my LFC and figured everything else would be icing on the cake. In this case, the icing was deliciously sweet because I had a complete and utter BLAST at this event!

The best way to get around food festivals such as this one is to use the tactic my friends like to call “divide and conquer”: Get a group of people, everyone take a different truck, order 2-3x more than you normally would, then meet back at a specific location and divvy up the goods. Yes, you’ll still get stuck in a line but it’s only one 2-hour line rather than four 2-hour lines and you get at least twice the amount of food.

Based on our “divide and conquer” technique, I was able to taste the following trucks and try their respective goodies:
– Frysmith: kimchi fries, rajas fries, foie gras fries, chili cheese fries
– Dogzilla: karai furikake dog, yakisoba dog, dogzilla dog
– Qzilla: smoked brisket, pulled pork, ribs, Texas toast, smack and cheese
– Mama Koh’s Chicken: chicken wings
– Fishlips: tuna, eel, shrimp, yellowtail
– Buttermilk: red velvet chocolate chip pancake bites.
– Coolhaus: chocolate chip cookie, brown butter candied bacon ice cream
– Del’s Lemonade: frozen lemonade

As you can see, “divide and conquer” works pretty well (to say the least).

Although I had a great time and filled myself up on truck food, I knew pretty early on (i.e. immediately after I got my order of LFC and watched the line grow exponentially in the next 5 minutes) that there was going to be some kind of backlash on “teh internetz” about this event. With the amount of people pouring through the gate, the lines were bound to be long and most people, like me, hate waiting in lines. I also knew that quite a number of people would probably be unaccustomed to food festivals and expect to stroll in at 3PM and get food immediately (which is obviously NOT the case).

Huge crowds + long lines = disgruntled people who will complain.

I knew it was going to get even uglier when I caught news that they were closing down the general admission line due to overcapacity inside. (As someone who was on the inside, I can vouch – it was crowded already.) The next news to hit was that there were delays in the trucks because of health inspections. Both would affect the public’s view of the event and, again, would cause people to complain. (I can already see negativity bubbling in the comments on other people’s blogs and on Yelp.)

Here’s the way I see it:

Yes, it sucks that people had to wait outside for hours and still weren’t allowed in.
Yes, it sucks that people had to wait inside for hours and didn’t get very much food.
I’m not going to lie – it totally sucks.

But think about it from another perspective: This is the first food festival in LA of this size. Name another festival that comes close to reaching the number of people in attendance at the Food Fest today – What, the Tofu festival? BBQ festival? KBBQ festival? I would argue that the LA Street Food Fest is a first for this city. Considering this is its first year, that the turnout was 50-100% larger than anticipated, and given the hiccups caused by the fire marshal and the health inspector and whomever else, I would say the LA Street Food Fest did pretty damn well for itself.

Nothing works perfectly the first time around; it’s only with time and hard lessons that things get better. And I honestly believe that the next time around (and there will be another time around), the event will be bigger and better. I mean, if, in its first year, the LA Street Food Fest has already converted me into a food festival supporter (which is a big deal in and of itself), who knows what else it is capable of?

9 Comments on “LA Street Food Fest 2010 – Part II: Icing on the Cake”

  • Lindazilla

    Divide and conquer was absolutely the way to go. Unfortunately, the folks I was meeting up with didn’t make it in. Here’s the rub, those of us that paid the $30.00 VIP price received very little that could be considered VIP treatment. Had I only paid $10.00 to get in, I probably would have thought this event a success as well. As it was, for $30.00 I sampled only 2 trucks in just over 2-hours before retreating to the “lounge” to get free Dim Sum and Mini Donut samples. Lessons learned for next time, for sure.

    February 14, 2010 » 7:27 AM »

  • Greg

    Had pretty much the same observation–I made the most of it and I was able to try a few things…

    February 14, 2010 » 3:48 PM »

  • fel

    The $10 tickets definitely helped. Had I purchased the $30 VIP tickets instead, you’re right – I probably wouldn’t feel as positively towards the event as I do right now.

    However, I think that my overall point of this entry is that the event is worth doing again. For those that were turned off by the lines and crowds this time – give the Food Fest another chance. Just learn the tricks for the next festival (i.e. show up early, go in a group, etc.) I think it has the potential to be something special in the long run.

    February 14, 2010 » 4:14 PM »

  • claudia garcia

    Hi Felicia! great Blog and I love your divide and conquer!!! Sounds like a great time!

    February 15, 2010 » 9:25 AM »

  • Anne

    Totally agree with divide and conquer. I am NOT a line-waiting kind of girl, but it was a sunny day, we were with friends, there was music, my stomach was soon full . . . I started referring to the line as a “linear party” because we had fun chatting with our fellow-foodies while we waited. I thought the event was a massive success! Yes, the Ludo Bites was the best thing I ate all day (Gastrobus was close second), even though we got in line at 1 pm, placed order at 3 pm, and didn’t get the goods until 4:45!!

    February 15, 2010 » 2:43 PM »

  • fel

    I love that term – a “linear party”!

    It totally was a party in line. The one thing I loved was that everyone totally civilized and nice to one another and just had a good time getting to know one another. There was no pushing, no cutting (at least, not that I saw) – It just a bunch of people getting to know one another and having a good time on a Saturday 🙂

    February 15, 2010 » 3:19 PM »

  • Cus

    Great to hear somebody had fun that day. I was working on one of the trucks and definitly agree-the organizers were blown out of the water. First I heard they expected 2000, then more like 5000 to 7000, and when all was said and done I think something like 20000 were through the gates.

    February 16, 2010 » 8:38 PM »

  • TheMinty

    Woohoo, it was a great event. You hit up completely different trucks than I did but went with the same strategy. With my group, we hit 5 vendors (and luckily had 2 more in VIP).

    February 17, 2010 » 12:15 PM »

  • Cathy

    Lovely pics of the food & the trucks. Totally drooling over the menu pics too, definitely going to brave the crowds next year.

    February 20, 2010 » 8:04 PM »

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